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13.09.2006

What Do You Have to Say About That? - IUF comment 22/2006

Sascha Tamm, IUF

An interesting passage was discovered in a used mathematics textbook for fourth graders in Berlin (Das Zahlenbuch 4, Ernst Klett Publishing, p. 106). Under the caption, "Bread Provisions" are some figures regarding the cultivation of grain and next to it a pair of math exercises with the question: In 2004 a bread roll cost 40 cents. The farmer receives less than 2 cents for the portion of flour. What do you have to say about that?

 

One can be sure the answer the average German teacher wants to hear from and the message he wants conveyed to the schoolchildren; namely, the amount the farmer receives is not only not enough but also unfair. The teacher would then explain that, in the free market economy, it is the capitalist, in this case the dealers, who get rich at the expense of those who actually create value. Of course, the amount the farmer is paid for the other ingredients, the milling, the baking, the transportation costs, etc. is never discussed. Moreover, the subsidies the farmer receives on top would also never be mentioned, although they could easily be "morally" justified.  

 

Irrespective that this style of crude indoctrination is an embarrassment that can hardly be outdone, in this regard it is threatening. First, while the schoolchildren are contemplating thought-provoking questions, they are being prevented from learning basic arithmetic.  

 

Second, the schoolchildren are being educated towards economic illiteracy. If that only led them to a commitment to fair trade (instead of an understanding of free trade) that would be bad enough. But this type of thinking is especially harmful for the people living in developing countries. The lack of understanding for the basic processes of the free market economy and their pseudo-moralistic rejection derived therefrom, which is embedded into the minds of the children, are a danger for the basis for a prosperous and peaceful life - one of ownership, competition and entrepreneurship. This is how the moralists destroy what they pretend to advocate -- our livelihood.  

 

The only hope is that German schoolchildren will be just as pathetic in such nonsense as they are in reading, writing and arithmetic.  

 

 

Author:  

 

  • Sascha Tamm, IUF

 

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